History

The Peekskill Meteorite Car is the red 1980 Chevrolet Malibu struck by the Peekskill Meteorite, one of the most historic meteorite events on record. Traveling at a cosmic velocity of approximately 25,000 miles per hour before piercing Earth's atmosphere on a Friday night, the descent of the Peekskill meteorite was captured across the East Coast by a record 16 different localities on hand to tape various high school football games. The vast majority of meteorite descents are never caught on tape — and none have been captured to this day from as many different cities. The multiple perspectives provided the ability to calculate the meteorite's flight path to Earth, including its orbit around the sun, an exceedingly rare opportunity for the scientific community. As a result of the rare circumstances regarding its descent and impact into car—another rarity—the meteorite, simply known as 'Peekskill' in scientific parlance, enjoys a rare level of fame. Even Discovery’s Science Channel includes Peekskill in its "Top Ten Meteorites".

Michelle Knapp (second from right) with her family, along with the original purchasers of the Peekskill meteorite: Dr. Jim Schwade (far right), Marlin Cilz (center), and Ray Meyer (center rear).

As if its big entrance was not enough, on October 9, 1992 at approximately 7:50 pm EDT the 4.4 billion year old, 26 pound meteorite smashed through a red Chevy Malibu parked on a residential driveway in Peekskill, New York—just north of New York City. After being slowed by Earth’s atmosphere to a terminal velocity of approximately 200 MPH, the Peekskill meteorite struck a car at a terminal velocity of approximately 200 miles per hour after being dramatically slowed by the Earth's atmosphere, Peekskill narrowly missed the gas tank before creating a shallow crater below the car finally coming to rest. 18 year-old Michelle Knapp had just purchased the car for $400 from her grandmother, and when she heard what sounded like a "three-car crash" in her driveway, she ran outside to investigate. Michelle called the Peekskill police who initially reported this as an act of vandalism. It was a neighbor who reasoned that vandals can't throw rocks through cars and surmised that the rock was from outer space.

Days after the impact, the car was sold to Iris Lang, wife of renowned meteorite legend Al Lang, for an amount that was nearly two orders of magnitude more than what Michelle had paid. Since then, the Malibu has been on display in numerous museums throughout the world, including New York City's American Museum of Natural History and France's National Museum of Natural History.

Many years ago the car was acquired by the Macovich Collection of Meteorites in New York City, whose proprietor, Darryl Pitt, also controls the main mass of the Peekskill meteorite.  Pitt was the first person to ever prepare and offer select meteorites for auction and is today the meteorite consultant for Christie’s.

In 2012, the Peekskill Meteorite Car's original title and the a broken rear taillight bulb alone sold at auction in New York City in excess of $5,000. Today specimens of the meteorite itself sell for in excess of $150/gram — nearly 4x its weight in gold.